Friday, November 26, 2004


I type this before you a spit-upon woman, spotted with cereal, formula, a wide variety of drool, and several unidentifiable stains I am loathe to investigate too deeply.

This after four hours in charge of Jim The Baby Nephew, at the end of which I was positive enough time had passed that it was time to take him to Freshman Orientation at his college of choice.

Things went well, considering I went to the kitchen to prepare a dish of cereal, and after ten minutes of adding cereal and drizzling in some water and adding cereal and drizzling in some water and adding cereal and drizzling in some water my mother finally came in to see what was taking so long.

“I can’t get the consistency right,” I said, throwing Jim’s tiny-tiny spoon down in frustration.

She watched for a moment. “That’s not cereal,” she said.

Okay, so the soy formula and the rice cereal are different things. I don’t understand what all the fuss was about; it’s all going to end up in spewn form on my shoulder anyway.

“Aunt Tink is horrifyingly incompetent, isn't she,” I crooned as I spooned the CEREAL into my nephew.

For months I have been looking for elements of myself in this child, and I think I’ve finally found one. As my sister put him to bed, I watched as he curled into a ball, started rubbing his little feet together, and put a thumb in his mouth, exactly the same position his aunt takes at night, only without the thumb, unless the Reds have had a particularly bad night with the bullpen.

naptime at:

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


“You owe me a burp,” I overheard my sister solemnly announce to her son. “Yes you do.”

He doesn’t owe her any spit-up, however, as recently he managed to spew in his own ear. Jim The Baby Nephew is fond of hanging out in a bouncy seat that suspends between the doorjamb of his father’s office. They totally need to make these in adult sizes, and I want one for Christmas. Jim has figured out how to spin while bouncing, which is all fun and games until somebody spews his green beans and centrifugal force whips it back in his face (Science!) Truly, this is my godchild.

We’re easily entertained, the two of us. I was in charge of Jim in the backseat of his parents’ 4-Runner for a half-hour car trip, .00000001 seconds into which he became bored. So we played What’s Not Child-Proof in Aunt Tink’s Purse?, a game featuring, among other items, a package of peanut butter crackers, a tube of mascara dating from the Reagan administration, and a pill bottle brimming with government-controlled antidepressants. (The pill bottle was deemed interesting; the crackers not so much; the mascara rapidly taken away by his father.) I don’t understand why they won’t let me baby-sit on my own.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Jim the Baby Nephew passes his days honked off at his teeth. They’ve been arriving for about a month now, and up until last week he hadn’t progressed much past the constant announcement that he, The Prince, is displeased.

“He’s learning that pain is an unavoidable part of life,” my mother said as he yowled in the background. I always assumed that he received his primary lessons in this every Sunday afternoon, when his parents sit him in front of a Bengals game. I guess that doesn’t involve enough learning about drool, which is also apparently an unavoidable part of life.

Jim, unlike his aunt, is of the opinion that figuring things out is the best fun ever. He has this toy with all kinds of levers and pullies and seizure-inducing spinning things, and the last time I was home the two of us sat and twirled things for the better part of an hour.

“He’s really not playing,” said his grandmother. “He’s learning. This is work for him.” I watched as Jim banged for the eight thousandth time on a tiny blue star that flashed when he hit it. As this involved approximately the same amount of skill level as my last day job, Jim is practically middle-management material.

The toy also has a musical mode, but instead of tinkling piano or soothing bing-bongs, this thing emits a playlist obviously performed by the Carter-era band playing the cocktail lounge at the Holiday Inn down the street. Call me retro, but the last time I checked "I'm A Little Teapot" did not involve synthesizers and a rimshot. We do not switch on the musical mode, because as far as this child will be concerned, the seventies never happened, musically. He is far too intelligent to risk exposure to "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head."

What I’m learning is that babies create utter personality alteration in the adults around them. I saw my accountant sister gather Jim to her the second she came in the door from work, saying happily, “I haven’t seen you all day!” She plopped him on the couch and made a series of faces and noises I formerly only associated with people on horse-level methamphetamines. I have honestly never loved her so much: At last, purposful idiotic behavior. We are equals now.

Country The Brother-In-Law, on the other hand, has become more grim: “I’ve had just about enough of your crap,” he announced as he strapped a whining Jim into his car seat. My father’s voice rises at least eight octaves in the presence of his grandson, but as Jim and I are basically at the same level of social development (“Look! FLASHING LIGHTS!!”), I remain unaffected.

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